The place kicker position has been pretty inconsistent for the New Orleans Saints these past few years. Garrett Hartley was a fan favorite following the 2009 season when he kicked game-winners in the playoffs to help the Saints win their first Super Bowl. As the following years unfolded, Hartley proved way too inconsistent to cement his starting spot with the Saints. Hartley finally got the axe late in the 2013 season and was replaced by veteran kicker, Shayne Graham.
Shayne Graham started off strong by making two of two field goals in the week 16 loss to the Carolina Panthers, and four for four against Philadelphia in the playoffs. While the conditions were rough in the divisional round loss against the Seahawks, Graham missed his two attempted field goals.
Is Graham the answer for the Saints? At the age of 36, he may be the temporary solution at best. While he seemed solid in his short outing as the Saints kicker, I don’t think the Saints’ staff has seen enough of Graham to be set on bringing him back for good this coming season.
At least we know there will be competition in the preseason as the Saints have two kickers under contract. Derek Dimke was one of the kickers that tried out for the starting spot after the Saints released Shayne Graham. While they ultimately went with Graham to finish out the season, Dimke has recently signed a future contract that will go into effect when free agency kicks off in March.
Since Dimke graduated in 2012, he has signed contracts with both the Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being contacted by the Saints. He may have fallen short in his tryouts with the previous two teams, but will have another chance this offseason.
With Graham and Dimke under contract, there is still the possibility that the Saints draft a kicker in the late rounds of the 2014 draft or bring in an undrafted rookie. With the close games the Saints have traditionally played in, having a consistent kicker will give the team a better chance to win these games. The attempted re-signing of Jimmy Graham is first on the Saints to-do list this offseason so the battle for the Saints next place kicker will more than likely be overshadowed, but should not be undermined.